The goals have dried up for Chelsea Women… and now the problem has spread to the men as well.
While the Blues men were drawing 0-0 with West Ham at the London Stadium, the women were drawing 0-0 against Everton at Southport’s ground. Goallessness is, it seems, contagious.
It means that Chelsea Women have now not scored in their first three league outings, despite an exasperated Emma Hayes ringing the changes to give other potential markswomen a fair crack of the whip.
And, for the very first time under Morrie Sarri, Chelsea’s men finished the match against the Hammers without finding the back of the net – despite both Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata having turns as guest striker.
Fran Kirby and Drew Spence each had chances to break the deadlock at the Merseyrail community stadium on Sunday afternoon, but couldn’t find a way through and now only have three points out of a possible nine as they bid to defend their title.
Any more dropped points and it will start to look like a vast gap against this season’s pace-setters.
With Carly Telford between the sticks, and a place found for Sophie Ingle, the side was refreshed from the team which drew at Bristol in midweek. But nothing would break the deadlock… even when captain Karen Carney was subbed in the second half in favour of Maren Mjelde – a player who often has the knack of creating bold openings.
Next up, SFK 2000 Sarajevo in the Women’s Champions League Round of 32 second leg on Wednesday September 26 at 7.30pm, and then Brighton & Hove Albion Women on Sunday September 30 at Kingsmeadow in the WSL at 2pm.
Meanwhile, back in London, Chelsea’s men played out a largely dull and frustrating 0-0 draw against West Ham; starting in driving rain and finishing in unexpected mid-afternoon sunshine.
Despite the Blues having the lion’s share of possession, and again racking up impressive Opta figures for successful passes, the realistic scoring opportunities were thin on the ground. Indeed the Irons, relying on counter-punches, probably had the closest chances, with Andriy Yarmolenko missing an open goal with a header in the 78th minute.
Sarri was encouraged by the possession and the chance creation, but he was also frustrated – though probably not as much as the fans.
“It’s impossible to win every match,” he said in his post-match press conference. “One point is OK for today. West Ham are a very good team, and I don’t know why they lost their first four matches in the Premier League. We played well in the second half generally, but only very well in the last 25 minutes.”
He refused to blame the Greek hangover for the lack of goals, but promised renewed efforts as Chelsea now take on Liverpool twice in four days – once in the Carabao Cup, then at home on Saturday late afternoon in the league; a game that may well prove to be the toughest in the first half of the season.
Expect wholesale changes on Wednesday as Sarri protects his best assets ahead of the weekend. “Maybe I will have to change 11 players,” he suggested, mischievously.
In front of nearly 57,000 people, West Ham ended up having the fewer chances, but the best ones. Michail Antonio went closest in the first half, his powerful 31st-minute shot riccocheting off Kepa’s left knee and flying to safety. In the second half, Yarmolenko headed a Robert Snodgrass cross… but with Kepa rooted to the spot, failed to bury it in the net.
Aside from that, the only really noteworthy thing was the reappearance of Gary Cahill, the forgotten defender, who not only made the bench but actually came on for a cameo appearance.